3rd week of my writing workshop via Sarah Selecky. Would love any feedback you have.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT – By Sarah Kramer
“Not All Pussies Are Pink” “Fuck Trump” “All Cops Are Bastards”
Janice stared at her closet trying to figure out what slogan t-shirt to wear at today’s protest. She thumbed her way through her Marie Knodo’d t-shirt drawer and pulled out a shirt that said “Black Trans Lives Matter”. This shirt was a soft bamboo weave and fit her in a way that made her feel less self-conscious about her belly chub.
Janice knew that she should “Lizzo” her body but none of that body acceptance rhetoric applied when it came to her own curves. She glanced at herself sideways in the mirror and ran the palm of her hand across her bulging stomach. Ugh.
The slogans Thick Thighs Save Lives and Riots Not Diets made her feel empowered but only for other people. Not herself.
She had been trying to recalibrate her brain to be more positive about her body. Maybe her shirt did make her look fat. Maybe if someone looked at her in this outfit they would think she was fat. Maybe she was fat? What’s wrong with being fat? What did it mean if someone thinks her outfit made her look fat?
The recalibrating wasn’t working.
She walked away from the mirror and reached down for her walking-heels.
Being in a crowd of regular-sized humans when you were as short as she was could be overwhelming. It seemed ridiculous for someone as radical as she was to wear high heels (especially to a protest) but she had this particular pair of pumps that were comfortable enough to walk in and she liked the height they gave her.
Her grandmother had told her that wearing pumps would help make her look skinnier and that the heels could also be used as a protective weapon if she was ever in danger.
“Strike hard and fast. Leave scars if possible.”
Janice ran her fingers over the spiky stubble on her ankles. Should she do a quick shave? She extended her short legs to look at them.
“Who gives a shit?” and walked towards the key rack by the front door.
She reached out for her keys and then kissed the tip of her pointer finger and touched it lovingly to the glass face of an antique pocket watch that dangled beside her keys. She had hung the watch on the key rack as a talisman.
Her grandmother left it to her when she died and the only instructions that came with the watch was a faded greeting card in her grandmothers old-fashioned tight cursive that said: “Fight the good fight.”
Janice reached down to pick up her homemade “White Silence is Violence” sign off the floor and pulled the front door closed and locked it behind her.
THE FAIRGROUND – by Sarah Kramer The sounds of screaming made her take a sharp intake of breath.
Getting up quickly from her kneeling position in the garden she swept the grass off her knees as she looked around frantically for the cause of the screams. Then she remembered that the opening of the midway at the fairground was today and that the screams were probably coming from joy, not pain.
When she had first moved up the road from the fairground; the property agent assured her that the noise of the demolition derby, the summer fair or the cattle auctions wouldn’t be audible all the way up to her new house on the hill.
She eagerly moved in on July 1st and the first thing she did was unpack her bedroom and set it up so she could get a good nights sleep. The other boxes could wait.
She was climbing into her fresh bed linens when the fireworks started. The cacophony of sounds coming from the fairground during the Canada Day celebration was deafening. She pulled the covers up and over her terrified dog and snuggled in tightly.
She had read somewhere that dogs will pick up on your energy; so she focused on doing deep calming breaths while listening to (what felt like) the endless explosions. She whispered into her pups ear “We made a huge mistake moving here but it’s ok because we are together.”
When she woke up July 2nd bleary-eyed from a fretful sleep; she had conceded that she would have to make the best of the sounds of the fairground. What else could she do? The lease was for a year.
Loud sudden noises always kickstarted her PTSD and would amp-up her adrenaline. The pounding of her heart would sometimes fill her ears with a whooshing sound of blood. It wasn’t uncommon for her to be startled by the sounds of cars crashing during the demolition derby or to feel her heartbreak as she listened to cows bleating because they were being separated from their offspring at the auction.
Today it was the ruckus of the midway that got her heart pounding but she tried to calm her nerves by reminding herself that in 5 days the operation would pack up and move on to the next city.
“It’s only temporary,” she muttered.
She walked from the garden to the garage and went to wash any residual dirt off her hands and knees in the utility sink in the corner. She reached over for a pink bar of gardeners soap and started to lather up.
The soap was a birthday gift from a co-worker who knew she liked to garden. What her co-worker didn’t know was that bar soap was a huge pet-peeve. It felt dirty to her because when it was used communally then that meant it was covered with other peoples germs or god forbid have someone else’s long hair wrapped around it. Luckily she lived alone.
She got dressed and pulled out her yoga bolster to meditate. She folded her legs and set up her body for Sukhasana but then remembered to reach for a folded cotton blanket to lay over her lap so her dog had somewhere to sit while she meditated.
She adjusted her body again. Making sure her sit bones were even and that her shoulders were back and down. She pulled her hands into prayer position, closed her eyes and took a long deep cleansing breath.
She started with square breathing. In for 4. Hold for 4. Out for 4. Hold for 4. She did this style of breathing until she felt her nervous system start to melt and then she breathed normally. Her teacher told her in class once that their meditation breath should feel like a breeze that is strong enough to make the light layer of dust on your coffee table flutter – but soft enough not to disturb it.
She paid attention to her breath. Cool coming in through the nostrils and warm flowing out as she exhaled. She then moved her attention to the sound of her breath. Slow and steady in. Easy and measured out.
She then matched her breath to her mantra: Ra Ma Da Sa – Sa Say So Hung
She wondered if she needed to get dog food today or if it could wait for another… No. No. No. Back to breathing.
Ra Ma Da Sa – Sa Say So Hung Ra Ma Da Sa – Sa Say So Hung
She started thinking about the last time she was at the Buffalo Days Fair which was right before her mother was killed in a car crash in 1978. She was 9 years old and wasn’t tall enough yet for the big rides but was starting to feel like the little rides were not for her anymore.
She yanked on her mother’s freckled hand and begged to go look at The World’s Biggest Shark in the Freakshow tent. The shark was a plasticy looking taxidermied fish. It was dangling from the tent ceiling on fishing line and floated above an empty tank to make it look like it was swimming.
Disappointed with the shark she turned her attention to the World’s Biggest Horse. At least this animal was alive. It was a 7 foot tall Shire Horse. “Imagine the size of its poops!” her mother chuckled
One of the last displays was The World’s, Smallest Man. They walked over to the white picket fence that separated them from the human display. He did not acknowledge them when they approached the fence.
They stared a little person who was sitting nonchalantly in a rickety lawn chair watching a small black and white TV. The sounds of the fairway outside the tent were clamorous and so the man’s TV volume was turned up to maximum. His socked feet were resting on an upside-down milk crate and her Mum leaned over and whispered hoarsely into her ear “Look. He’s wearing one orange and one blue sock.”
Ra Ma Da Sa – Sa Say So Hung Ra Ma Da Sa – Sa Say So Hung
In her relaxed state, her wandering thoughts revealed a memory of her mother that was long forgotten. Her lips curled into a faint smile as she focused again on the sound of her breath.
She breathed in her mantra deeply and tears welled up behind her closed eyes.
My friend Shoshana e-mailed me the other day to ask if I wanted to do a Sarah Selecky online writing program. I said a big YES because it was such perfect timing as I had just been thinking about how creative I used to be and how life, work and pandemic stress has kind of sucked me into a type of creative paralysis.
About a month before the holiday I had to start making a Secret Santa project for one of the people I work with at Tattoo Zoo. When I pulled Nicole’s name I immediately knew I wanted to do something to do with plants. She loves plants, plants and more plants.
So I started working on a wall banner for her and it was so much fun to pull out my sewing machine and experiment with felt, scissors and to get frustrated and then brainstorm to try to figure out how to make the banner look the way I wanted it to look. It turned out pretty awesome. I’m really happy with it and when I heard Nicole shriek “OH MY FU*KING GOD” over the spotty zoom connection (during our zoom staff party) I knew I had done a good job.
Working with my hands again really ignited a creative fire in me that I haven’t felt for a long time and I thought “This should be my New Years resolution. Let’s lead with more creativity.”
So I jumped at the chance to do this writing program. I haven’t written anything but e-mails lately so it was fun to receive my first assignment in my inbox on Jan 1st and let my imagination fly. Here’s what came of it. Let me know what you think. 🙂
MIZZLING by Sarah Kramer
“Shit.” She had worn the wrong shoes. Part of her walking path in the woods had been flooded by the heavy rain.
She had grabbed her coral coloured faux suede slip-ons in a hurry to get outside for a walk before the rain started up again. She had been living here long enough to know that these shoes were ridiculous to wear for a walk in the forest but her desire to only wear things that were comfortable outweighed any logic. The rainy season had rounded the corner. In her part of the world, the rain was all that winter was. The clouds would start to roll in about mid-October and then came the mist and fog and soon daily rain was part of the routine of winter life. Even though she was a pluviophile and enjoyed the damp season she still fought the change in outerwear. Every winter season was a new personal and private game in pushing the limits of not wearing her rain-gear. The longer she could go without wearing socks or confining rubber boots; the more she felt like she had won something. Her slip-on shoes felt like slippers and anything that felt like loungewear was all she wanted to wear lately and even though the shoes wouldn’t be ruined like cow suede if they got wet – she still didn’t want to get her sockless feet wet. She had a lot more walking to do before she headed home. Her walking path was in a section of land near her house that was left to the city by a man who used to own acres of forest before the area had been bulldozed and turned into the suburbs. His dying wish was that they would leave this unfettered part of his land alone and only maintain the walking paths that he had carved himself on his daily walks. This chunk of land was a safe haven for all things wild and it wasn’t unusual to hear ravens croaking above in the tall Douglas-fir trees or to see frogs living their best lives in the marshy section of the woods. She was being cautious about crossing the flooded walking path because she knew how slippery things could be in the rain. She carefully plotted out her route across – while a 30 year old flash of memory of hydroplaning across a rain-slicked downtown sidewalk ran through her mind. Her first rainy season here was a marvel. Coming from a snowbound city where -30 degrees Celsius and wearing arctic style jackets and boots was a normal winter day outfit – in her newly adopted city she walked the streets feeling intoxicated with the lack of need for any heavy winter-wear. The mizzling rain didn’t feel like the prairie rain she was used to back at her former home. This new west coast rain was light and almost didn’t feel wet. Suddenly and without warning she found her right leg sliding one way and her other leg sliding backwards to then find herself sitting in a puddle as strangers helped her up to her feet. “You have to be careful about the sidewalk grates when it’s raining.” Noted. She learned that day that water could be just as treacherous as ice and that embarrassment can be an intense lifelong motivator for future caution. She stepped over the waterlogged rocks successfully to the other side of the forest path and sniffled. Exercise and exertion always made her nose run so she checked the pockets of her sweatshirt for a hankie to blow her nose. Her fingers touched a foreign object and she pulled a tube of lipgloss out of her pocket. Wow. She had forgotten about lipgloss. This was one of her favourites; it was the right shade of pink without seeming infantile. It also had the perfect hint of gold shimmer that didn’t leave glitter on her face after the gloss had inevitably been licked away over time. Lipgloss to her was the icing on the cake that was her daily make-up routine. Her purse at any given time would have 4 or 5 different glosses at the ready but that was pre-pandemic days. Now her purse was full of masks, nitrile gloves and hand sanitizer and she hardly wore makeup anymore because she almost never left the house except to go for a walk in the forest. She held tightly to the long-forgotten accoutrement of the past and tried to remember the last time she wore it. The gloss had been in her pocket for so long that it had started to separate. The chemical components that keep a gloss emulsified had given up. It had been sitting for too long. She wandered off the forest path and out to the city sidewalk to finish the rest of her walk home. Passing by a bus stop she made a little detour over to the garbage can and unceremoniously tossed the gloss in and walked cautiously over the slippery wet grass back to the sidewalk. She pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up over her head. It has started mizzling.
Side note. Mizzling is a word my Dad taught me about and I’ve been looking for a way to incorporate it into my life ever since. 🙂
HI PALS!! I have been practising yoga with Ty Chandler since I finished cancer treatment in 2014. I can’t even begin to tell you how much her class has brought back my strength, flexibility, stamina and given my wandering brain a place to focus.
The thing I love the most about Iyengar yoga is the structure. I’ve learned so much about my body and alignment and now that I’m on the other side of recovery – Ty’s classes have helped me challenge my body to new heights.
Sometimes during class, I will find myself upside down and marvelling at my new found strength.
One of the silver linings of this pandemic is that Ty started teaching via zoom and her classes have been my saving grace during this stressful time.
Since the classes are on Zoom they are now accessible to ANYONE anywhere. The best gift I have given myself during Covid is to spend time on the mat with Ty.
PRIZE ONE: -Personalized autographed copy of Vegan A Go-Go! -Gold-leafed fern pendant necklace made by Sarah -15 minute Zoom chat with Sarah (and Walter)where you can talk about a wide range of topics like; food, how to take care of curly hair, boyfriend advice, chihuahuas, etc 🙂
PRIZE TWO: -Sarah’s proof copy of Garden of Vegan that she used to edit the book before it was published. Book will have a personalized autograph for the winner.
PRIZE THREE: -Copy of 2003 HERBIVORE magazine with Sarah on the cover. Magazine will have a personalized autograph for the winner.
Makes meals that will be distributed through several Winnipeg organizations that are on the frontlines in trying to help communities during the COVID-19 and ever-deepening food insecurity crisis. Just $10 buys a high-quality, homemade meal that will be delivered to a frontline organization working to support its increasingly vulnerable community.
Full disclosure: this program is run in part by Sarah’s brother Chef Ben Kramer
Law Center changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can
live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of
their gender identity or expression.
Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating
for a world in which all people are free to define themselves and their
futures. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice,
TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender
and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for
A simple recipe from a simpler time. My Mum used to make this for me when I was a kid. After she passed away I somehow ended up with her recipe cards and this recipe, in particular, gives me the most comfort. And a little comfort is what we all need right now. Plus it’s also cheap as hell to make. Recipe is in my cookbook HOW IT ALL VEGAN!
Wow. It’s been almost a YEAR since I updated my blog. Yikes. I guess using social media has cut down on my blogging time down to zero. What a shame … ANYWAY … Here I am now and I have some news to share. Don’t worry. It’s good news.
I guess I’ll just start by saying that my husband is now my wife. 🙂
Geri has been struggling for many years with gender dysphoria and with the help of her therapist and myself has recently come out as trans. She goes by the name Geri and her pronouns are she/her.
This may come as a surprise to some of you but it wasn’t to me. This is something that has come up often in our 25 year relationship. We thought it was more of a kink but we now know it was much more than that.
The first question people have been asking me is if I’m ok and my answer is ABSOLUTELY. 🙂 Both Geri and I identify as pansexual (otherwise known as bi-sexual) and so our marriage hasn’t really changed. I’m in love with her. She’s in love with me. To quote David from Schitt’s Creek … “I like the wine not the label.”
So why a blog post?
We wanted to come out publicly for a few reasons. Our number one reason is visibility is important. With more visibility comes more understanding.
Trans people represent a small percentage of the population and therefore it can feel very isolating to be trans. So Geri and I are waving her Trans flag to say HI!!! We are over here!! We see you!!
Our number two reason is we wanted to share our “coming out” letter in case anyone reading wanted to use it for themselves.
Geri had a difficult time trying to decide how to come out. It’s a very personal decision and everyone comes out differently. Now that Geri has removed the “man suit” that she’s been wearing as protection these last 48 years – she is understandably feeling much more vulnerable.
Coming out as trans person in your late 40’s isn’t easy. Both Geri and I were raised in an era (the 80’s) of extreme homophobia and transphobia. Fear of people shunning us. Fear of how people will react. When we were in our teenage formative years being anything but Cis and straight made you a pariah. So our default mode is fear.
Our biggest fear about coming out was what it would be like to watch someone we care about processing the information in real time – because if their reaction was negative – it would be heartbreaking. So after much discussion, Geri decided to write an e-mail and send it to our loved ones.
We looked online about the best way to craft a letter and didn’t find many coming out letters that we liked – so in Kramer DIY fashion we wrote our own letter (see below).
We wanted to give our friends/family time to read the letter. Process it in their own time … and come talk to us when they were ready. We also included some GLAAD links so that we wouldn’t have to answer the same questions over and over again. 🙂
I’m happy to say that almost everyone on our list (that we sent the e-mail) got back to us right away with love and support. Only a few people haven’t responded and that’s ok … We send them off with love. Byeeeeee!
One of the things that surprised me the most was that almost everyone I’ve told (who is under the age of 30) was so blasé about it. I heard a lot of “ok cool – what pronoun do they me to use?”
It made me realize that so many of these young people didn’t grow up like we did with shame and fear. It brought tears to my eyes to realize that gender and sexuality isn’t a big deal to so many of them and it filled my heart with hope for the world.
So that’s our big news. 🙂 We hope you will take this news with grace and joy for Geri.
If you feel like you want to say something negative – please don’t. There is enough negativity in the world. We don’t need more. 😉
Below is the “coming out” letter we sent to our close friends and family. We offer it to any of you who wants to customize it and use it for their own. We hope you find it helpful.
Thanks in advance for your support. I’m happy. Hope you’re happy too. 🙂 xoxo SARAH
Hello This is a big news letter from The Kramers. Have a seat. First off – Sarah and I are fine. 🙂
This is difficult for me to write but I wanted to share something that’s going on in my life, because I love and trust you, and I know you love me.
I am writing to let you know that I am a transgender person. I’ve known for a very long time and I’ve struggled for many years with my gender. With the help of Sarah and my therapist – I have come to terms with my place on the gender spectrum.
I am now transitioning.
I know this may seem shocking and that this may feel like it is coming from out of nowhere but I want you to know that I am ok. In fact I have never been better. 🙂
This is my coming out letter.
In the very near future I will be coming out to the world and living my life as female. I am still the same person that you have always known and loved. I’ll just be living more authentically as the true me.
As of right now I will be going by the name Geri and my pronouns will be changing to she/her.
I know you may have slip-ups with my gender at first, and that is ok. If you do slip up – you do not have to make a big deal out of it. Just correcting yourself is enough for me to see that you care about and respect who I am.
My transition is not going to happen over night and some aspects may seem fast and some may seem slow. I ask for your patience and support during this time.
I have included a few important links below for you to read. I would appreciate if you read these before you asked us questions.
TIPS FOR ALLIES OF TRANSGENDER PEOPLE https://www.glaad.org/transgender/allies
If you feel like not responding right away, that’s ok. Take as much time as you need. I understand that this is a lot to process.
Sarah and I love you very much and we are happy to answer questions or talk about my transition. But please know that some questions may be too personal – so we will let you know when a question is over the line. Lots of love, xoxo Geri & Sarah (and Walter)